May 2005 – La Serrana, Heartland, H Sauer, Guigal

These might be wines that have been reviewed during the month on wine-pages, or have appeared in my newspaper column, or they may be wines from a recent tasting that hasn’t yet been written-up in a full-length report. There is a growing archive of these four of the best choices each month.

under a fiver
La Serrana (Spain) Tempranillo 2003
The kncok-down regular price of this little mind made it an irresistable choice for the “under a fiver” spot. At Majestic’s Spring press tasting more than one of my estimable colleagues agreed with me that this was a little cracker, and arguably one of the best value wines in Majestic’s current portfolio – not the best wine of course, and not some serious specimen to cellar for a decade, but a superbly made, joyous little wine at a terrific price. There is a little touch of chocolate to quite a bright cherry fruitedness, and a really nice depth of fruit. On the palate there is lots of concentrated, slick fruit with a good solid core and a certain chocolaty texture and sweetness. Drying tannins, with some spice and a touch of sweetness before balanced acidity completes a great value picture. £2.99 Majestic.

under a tenner
Heartland (Australia) Viognier Pinot Gris 2004
Heartland is the affordable label of Ben Glaetzer, one of the world’s hottest wine-making figures ever since Rober Parker bestowed the magical perfect 100 score on his ‘Amon Ra’ Shiraz last year. I recently had lunch with Ben, and tasted through hs wines, where every one struck me as being beautifully balanced and crafted, and perfectly pitched between typical Aussie ebuliance and a certain harmony and restraint. This highly unusual blend of Viognier and Pinot Gris has a wonderfully smoky, Pinot Gris-dominated nose (despite that grape making up only around a quarter of the blend) with some floral character, and quite fat, buttery citrus, peach and herbal notes. On the palate this has lovely richness and terrific verve, with a deliciously deep mid-palate of ripe pear and a sweet toffeed note, with hints of luscious honey and spices. Wonderful stuff for the money.
£7.99 Luvians, Great Western Wines, Abbey Fine Wines, Noel Young.

under twenty
H Sauer (Germany) Escherndorfer Lump Riesling Spätlese Trocken 2003
From the inland area of Francortia, this is Sauer’s best vineyard, composed of clay/limestone soils. Hauer was the IWC International White Winemaker of the Year in 2004. This is a wonderfully aromatic wine, with real lychee, rose petal and fragrant, exotic aromatics. There is an immediate sense of “weight” and plumpness, and a delightful palate that is extremely rich and unguent, with exotic papaya and mango flavours, and delicious nectarine fruit sweetness. A very racy mineral acidity and crisp citrus finish balances this sensational 14.5% alcohol wine. £15.79 Noel Young. 

sky’s the limit
Guigal (France) Côte-Rôtie La Mouline 2000
This is made from 100% Côte Blonde fruit. It sees almost four years in new oak before release. Guigal has the longest experience of using new oak in all of Rhône, and has experimented with all sorts of oaks, all sorts of toasting and all sorts of tonneliers. The wine is fermented in stainless steel, but goes through malolactic and ageing in barrel – a Burgundian technique. The colour is a dense, even dark crimson. It has a deep, sonorous, cherry and herb-scented nose, with gentle toast and a chocolaty depth, and a real sense of plushness. There are little notes of blueberry and floral highlights too, in a pure but complex fragrance. Lovely fruit on the palate here; really fine, rich, ripe cassis and black cherry fruit, with a medium-bodied, silky mouthfeel and very smooth texture. The finish has a great suppleness and a bittersweet chocolate and espresso depth, but it stays fresh, cherry-lifted and harmonious in the finish. Very good length too, with spicy, rich and toasty notes playing against fine acidity and a tight tannic structure. Outstanding. Around £140